Blog Archive

About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
View my complete profile


Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 18: Retain what you Learn!

"There are four types that sit and learn in the presence of the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve. The sponge  absorbs all; the funnel receives at one end and spills out at the other; the strainer lets the wine through and retains the dregs; and the sieve lets out the flour dust and retains the fine flour".

The first part of the Mishna describes someone who listens to all the opinions but does not know how to distinguish between what is correct and what is not, The good thing is that this person has the willingness and eagerness to sit and learn but at the same time, they lose out because they can't make any distinctions between the ideas and is lost in the learning.

This is truly tragic because he won't understand what is in front of him and won't know what to do. Eagerness to learn is very important but it must come with proper understanding. Without that, one will not know what or how to keep the Torah!

The second person, the funnel receives at one end and spills out at the other. This means that he accepts what he is being taught but he doesn't understand it at all. This is different than the sponge because someone like that understands what he is being taught but they can't make a decision as to what is right or not This is a step ahead of the funnel because at least he has some level of understanding!!

The third one is a strainer that lets the wine through and retains the dregs. This means that although he listens to what he is being taught, he quickly forgets it and then retains the wrong idea. This  is also not good because although he listens, it goes in one ear and out the other retaining the wrong ideas and going in the wrong direction.

The last one is the sieve who lets out the flour dust and retains the fine flour. He listens to what is being taught and can distinguish between what is right and what is not. This person will really grow in their learning because they are able to retain what they need and let what they don't need go.

This is important because there are many times that we hear many different views and don't know exactly how to handle them. This is why we have to be methodical and take things step by step, carefully analyzing what is in front of us. We need to digest ideas, think about them and then grill them to a certain extent to see if they hold water or not.

We want to learn things fast and then move onto the next subject quickly so we can cover ground. That is good but one must make sure that before they move on they clearly understand what is in front of them otherwise it will be just a waste of time. Take things slow but carefully analyze the subject and then move on. This will lead to success and our ability to retain our learning!